The ink Magazine - Issue 19

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THE INK MAGAZINE SPOKENWORD + THE ARTS + DOPENESS

Tj McGowan The Everyday Bite

Open Mic Spotlight

BeatStreet Poetry PLUS

From the Grave With

Poetic Duality

Gwendolyn Brooks

Does Size Matter? January ‘22/NO. 19


theinkmag.com

Founder's Diary

I was talking to Verb Kulture a w hile ago. She's a poet/entreprenuer/host/whateve r you need done type of person. A creative. I guess I co uld've said that in the beginning. But anyways, we were talking about giving up. And how sometimes, it's hard to keep going. It's you doing this and that. It's knowing that if you stop, it all falls apart. That's pressure. But, on ce you start building. Once you start going un der construction, people see you putting in work. Th ey see what you're building and when they drive by -- when they walk past, they say, "man, I can't wait to see what that turns into." They're expected you to co mplete it. They're looking for it to be completed. To keep going.

As much as we both wanted to ta p out, we understood that we're not doing this for ours elves anymore. The people expect it. The people wan t to see it. So, we keep building. Pushing through the gr it and grind to get it done. To all the other creatives ou t there. The businessstarters. The go-getters. The build ers. Keep pushing. Keep building, brick after brick. Because nobody else is going to build what you've star ted. And nobody else is supposed to. It's yours. If you st op, you'll just come back to it later and see how muc h time you've wasted by walking away in the first plac e. If that passion is in you, it's God-given and it's not le aving until you get it done. Keep pushing. And enjoy th e issue. Has it almost been two years already? Wow. Ti me flies.

Tyran Saffold Jr


THE INK MAGAZINE

Contents 12 GWENDOLYN BROOKS

6

OPEN MIC SPOTLIGHT

Beatstreet Live

10

12

FROM THE GRAVE

DOES SIZE MATTER?

Feature Article

Gwendolyn Brooks

22

FEATURED POET

T.J. McGowan

18

22

Be the Poem

T H E E V E RY DA Y B I T E

Feature Article


Available at

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GEAR FOR THE STAGE

The Grind is Real

A POET'S MUST HAVE


The Words I Never Said Podcast

A Podcast for Poets

59 reviews

Interviews with some of your favorite poets + Tips

+ Jokes + SpokenWord performances

Bi-Weekly on your favorite streaming app


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BeatStreet P

Verb Kulture


Poetry Live Dallas, TX Without the Open Mic, SpokenWord dies. It’s not a suggestion or a theory. It’s a fact. So many poets gained confidence and notoriety on the stage at a hole-in-the-wall open mic in their city. From there, they kept rolling from one stage to the next until they arrived on a national stage. Until they competed for a world slam. Until their names became household names in the world of poetry. And in Dallas, TX, Beatstreet Poetry Live is keeping the art of SpokenWord alive in its own unique way.

“I have a background in African dance and rhythm. I was trying to create a vibe of bringing drums together, rhythm, and having poetry and dance all in one,” said Verb Kulture, creator of Beatstreet Poetry Live. And there you have it. A new way to merge multiple aspects of performance art into a melting pot of creativity.

Beatstreet Poetry live has thrived in Dallas, TX, for six years and counting. That’s about twenty years in the world of Open Mics. Why? Because most establishments don’t last that long. A life span of three or four years is typically the length. But, when you get to six years, ten years, fifteen years, and counting, you’re doing something right. You have an element that separates you from the rest.


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“I think we’ve been around so long because of our uniqueness. I think it’s the uniqueness and the experience that has kept people coming all these years,” Verb explains. “Also, it's the community side of it. I put on so many events, and I’ve developed a personal connection with so many people.”

You can’t have a successful Open Mic without the people. And, when the people support you, you’ll always have a platform to provide. It all starts with a capable host. One that can sway the crowd and keep engagement high. What’s the equation, though? Is a host created or born?

“My personality makes me a better host. I have a passion for bringing people together. I’m a people person. I love being around other folks, other creatives, and just vibing. That means everything to me,” Verb clarified.

And, maybe that’s it. You can’t play basketball if you hate dribbling. You can’t be a performance poet if you hate performing. And as a host, you won’t have a successful Open Mic if you don’t have a genuine like for people. We didn’t make the rules, but we understand them. The people know if your heart is in it or if you just like the spotlight. Hoopers say, “the ball don’t lie.” Well, that Mic doesn’t lie, either. And for Verb Kulture, the Mic tells the truth about her all the time.

But, what’s a regular Open Mic like at Beatstreet Live on Sundays? It’s crowd involvement. It’s setting an atmosphere that makes a novice want to get on stage and bare their soul to the audience. It’s a judgment-free zone. It’s a “get up there, spit, and have fun” zone. And it’s all set by the host. You have to know what you’re doing up there. People want to be comfortable and sidestep their fears of performing. Fears of messing up or being judged. That’s what they want—and that’s what Beatstreet gives.


“They feel comfortable enough to get in front of the audience and perform,” Verb says. “A lot of people are drawn to that atmosphere. That makes me feel like I’m doing my job as a host.”

You’ll get a little b-boy dancing. You’ll get some African drumming. You’ll get some call and response moments to warm things up with the crowd. And then, of course, you’ll get the poetry. Whether it’s from a seasoned artist like Verb Kulture, or someone new to the stage, everyone is received with the same open arms. And that’s how it should be.

Verb Kulture has a lot going on. From the Harlem Renaissance Festival and Changing Faces Masquerade Ball for Breast Cancer Awareness to their youth Summer Camp Coming and annual tributes to Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield, and Marvin Gaye, it’s always something. You can connect with them at verbkultureevents.com or on Instagram @verbkulture.

BeatStreet Poetry Live


DOES SIZE

MATTER?

BY: TYRAN SAFFOLD JR.

Does it? (and all the ladies say….)

Well, of course, it depends on the context. If you’re talking family inside of a MINI Cooper, then yes, size does matter. If you’re talking about a chicken nugget, then no, not really. But, when it comes to SpokenWord, does it matter? It does. A lot. Why?

Because, according to Digital Information World, you’re dealing with attention spans that have fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds recently.

It makes sense. You’re scrolling through Instagram or YouTube. If a video doesn’t catch your attention in the first two seconds, you’re not going to listen. You’re not going to watch. You might even block/unfollow because some of yall are THAT petty. But I digress. The average YouTube video holds someone’s attention for 2.7 minutes. Two-point-seven.

So, it's hard to keep someone’s attention in this digital age. We’re distracted. We want to check our emails or notifications.


THEINKMAG.COM “There is a strategy with this”

In the beginning, you have to hit them hard. You have to hit them fast. Think of Mike Tyson, not Money Mayweather. Tyson went in to knock you out as quickly as he could. Your first words have to be haymakers. Your emotion has to be a haymaker. Your performance has to be an old Mike Tyson fight.

Of course, it depends on the setting. In Slam, back when I did it, we had 3 minutes and 10 seconds. So, many performance poets have kept that same time frame when writing other poems. A poem that’s 3 minutes long won’t have a problem battling with attention spans. Because, to them, it’s a rollercoaster ride. It’s so entertaining that they don’t even realize it’s only been 3 minutes.

Tyson. Not Mayweather.

But, if you go on stage and skip past three minutes, it's ok. If you skip past four, it still might be alright, depending on how well you’re performing your piece. But, if you dare to venture into the five-minute and above category, you’re going to run into everything. People will check their phones. People will chat. Eyes wander away from you, thinking, “is this poem still going?”

You don’t want to lose the audience. Not saying that every poem has to be three minutes or less because it doesn’t. There’s no rule to this. And, if you’re featuring, then yes, by all means, that’s a great time to drop a 7-minute piece because people are there TO SEE YOU.

Likewise, if you want to spit a 7-minute poem at an open mic, by all means, spit a 7-minute poem. And even if you’re dropping knowledge and gems, seven minutes is still seven minutes. In the digital world, that’s a long damn time. So, if you haven’t lost half the audience by the end of your poem, you’re already a legend.

I have a friend named GFSolider. And, this brutha doesn’t write a poem that’s less than five minutes—yet, he became one of the most popular poets in the world. Literally. Getting flown out to Africa to perform and everywhere else. So, if you know how to control a crowd for an extended amount of time, then you could be the exception. But, for the most part, size does matter.

Attention spans are shriveling like your boyfriend on a cold winter day. So, keep that in mind when you put the pen to pad—especially if you plan on performing. There are ways to break your longer poems down without sacrificing the essence of your piece. If you want to know how, follow @theinkmagazine on Instagram, where we drop off performance hints, tips, and all kinds of news for poets like you. See you there!


Photo: NPR.org

Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most influential poets of 20thcentury American poetry. I stumbled upon her work in The Oxford Anthology of African-American poetry and from there, I had to find out more about her. She wrote poetry, but it read like short novels. Her descriptive style, teamed with her clever lyricism, helped her become the first black author to win the Pulitzer Price. She was also the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. She had a primary focus on the plight of black people and her poems reflected the civil right activism of the 1960s. In short, she was definitely “for the culture” in such a way that she was able to bridge the gap between academic poets of her generation and the young, militant black writers of the same time. We guess you could say that, “she was good in any hood.” We present to you, one of the dopest—intelligent—lyrically gifted writers that The ink Magazine has ever interviewed.


From the Grave Ms. Brooks, I thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Did your parents help with your newly found writing passion?

Oh, I wasn’t doing much. I am honored to be selected for your platform.

<Playfully taps my leg> Honey, did they ever! My dear father was a janitor. A hard-working man who was full of goodness and gentleness. My mother was a schoolteacher and classically trained pianist. Both were extremely supportive of my passion for reading and writing. My father provided me with a desk with many little compartments, with long drawers at the bottom, and a removable glassprotected shelf at the top, for books. Certainly, up there, holding special delights for a writing-girl, were the Emily of New Moon books, L.M. Montgomery’s books about a Canadian girl who wrote and kept notebooks even as I kept notebooks. I loved the little adventures — and yearned to meet their splendid creator. But who ever met an Author? Certainly there, also, to look down on me whenever I sat at the desk, was Paul Laurence Dunbar. ‘You,’ my mother said, ‘are going to be the lady Paul Laurence Dunbar.’ I still own the Emily books and the Complete Paul Laurence Dunbar. Of course I would be a poet! Was a poet! I wrote a poem every day. Sometimes two poems.1

No, all the honor is in our lap. You absolutely left your fingerprints on the world of fiction and poetry, but before we get into that, let’s get a little background about you. Where are you from? I was born in Topeka, Kansas but raised in Chicago. Which part of Chicago? The Southside. Oh, nice! There is a poet that we featured in one of our earlier issues. A couple, actually. They are from the South-Side of Chicago. K. Love and Jeronimo Speaks. I guess there is nothing but talent brewing in the city. What were your first memories of writing? Very early in life I became fascinated with the wonders language can achieve. And I began playing with words.


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Which of your parents were the must supportive?

What is poetry to you?

My mother was played an integral part as well. She took me to the library when I was about four or five. I enjoyed reading poetry and I tried to write it when I was about seven, at the time that I first tried to put rhymes together. And I have loved it ever since.

Poetry is life distilled.

What did that lead to? Well, when I was 13, I published my first poem, “Eventide.” It appeared in American Childhood. By the time I was 17, I had began regularly publishing poems in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper that served Chicago’s African-American communities. I attended writing workshops and things of that nature. I would say that, shortly after that, I went to a junior college and simultaneously worked for the NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I would also so that it was around that time that my poems began to reflect on the Black experience at that time. I saw how we were living and it resonated with me. Sometimes, it was positive, but other times, it was in contrast to the benefits I saw other cultures have. Things that, for whatever reason, we were not afforded.

Do you have a writing process? When I start writing a poem, I don’t think about models or what anybody else in the world has done. I am interested in telling my particular truth as I have seen it. I don’t sit down and say, ‘I am now going to write a poem by, about, and to all blacks.’ I am myself. I am consumed with the passion of ideas that I came to believe in, in the late sixties. They are now built into myself. I am THAT — so anything that I write is going to issue from a concern with and interest in blackness and its progress.2 Can you define what it is to be a poet? A poet is one who distills experience — strains experience. A poet looks — sees. Poets oblige themselves to see. Poetry is siren, prose is survey. I keep telling children: Poetry comes out of life. What happened to you yesterday and last week and six years ago and ten minutes ago and what you surmise may happen tomorrow is poetry-in-the-rough. Strain it — distill — work the magic of carefully-chosen words upon it — 3 and there’s poetry.

Photo: Literary Hub


Did you ever think your poetry would have this type of effect on following generations? I’ve written so many poems that I believe some of them will stay alive. People write me wonderful letters saying this poem or that poem has meant very much to them and in some cases has changed their direction. So I hope I’ll still be useful when I’m no longer here.4

From the Grave


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I was given a book. The Oxford Anthology of African-American poetry and I was reading through the book and came across your poems. Beverly Hills, Chicago—Music for Martyrs. Those were two of my favorite. Oh, and We Real Cool. Thank you, young man. You know, I just wanted to want to write poetry that would appeal to many, many blacks, not just the blacks who go to college but also to those who have their customary habitat in taverns and in the street — people who have grown up feeling that poetry was not for them, but who are able to enjoy poetry if it seems to them relevant to what they know of life. 5 Did it ever become hard for you to write poems? Like, did you ever overthink it? No, I wouldn’t say it was hard. But, it was a process. A poem rarely comes whole and completely dressed. As a rule, it comes in bits and pieces. You get an impression of something, and you begin, feebly, to put these impressions and feelings and anticipation or remembering into those things which seem so common and handleable — words. And you flail and you falter and you shift and you shake, and finally, you come forth with the first draft. Then, if you’re myself and if you’re like many of the poets that I know, you revise, and you revise. And often the finished product is nothing like your first draft. Sometimes it is. 6

Did you have to read a lot to become a better writer? Oh, absolutely. Son, writing is a delicious agony. Reading is important. Books are meat and medicine and flame and flight and flower. They are steel, stitch, cloud and drumbeats on the air. If it wasn’t for my parents placing the books on my desk at a young age, I wouldn’t have gotten the foundation that I needed to be a better writer, but you must always read between the lines and see what they don’t want you to see. A writer should get as much education as possible, but not just going to school. That is not enough. If it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers.7 What was something that pained you, as a poet? The things that we accepted, as black people. I grew to understand how offense the word ‘minority’ was, in reference to cultures. Don’t let anyone call you a minority if you’re black or Hispanic or belong to some other ethic group. You’re not less than anybody else. But, we accepted that word and, as you read in Beverly Hills, Chicago, it was saddening. It still is. We don’t ask a flower any special reason for it’s existence. We just look at it and are able to accept it as being something different from ourselves.


"Exhaust the little moment because soon, it dies and it will not come again."

1.Gwendolyn Brooks, Part 1 – 1972

2. Update on Part One: An Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks,” with Gloria T. Hull and Posey Gallagher, 1977

3.Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks, TriQuarterly 60, Spring/Summer 1984

4.Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks, broadcast on “New Letters in the Air,” November, 1988

5.Update on Part One: An Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks,” with Gloria T. Hull and Posey Gallagher, 1977

6.Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks, from In the Memory and Spirit of Frances, Zora, and Lorraine: Essays and Interviews on Black Women and Writing, ed. by Juliette Bowles, 1979

7.Inspiringquotes.us

Photo: Readers Digest

Gwendolyn Brooks


Issue 19

Become The Poem

BY YESSHE WRITES

How do you become your poem? How do you bring your poem to life and allow your audience to experience every word? Every syllable. Every bit of emotion you poured into the piece. It’s the difference between reciting a poem and Delta Rises

performing poetry. It’s the difference between someone saying you did a nice job and someone approaching you with teary eyes.

They felt you. And as a poet, you can’t ask for more than that.

When you become the poem, you personify the emotion you poured into it. You make it leap off the page and into the hearts of your audience. In turn, you create a fan. You create someone who wants to share your work on social media. Someone who wants to buy your projects. Someone who supports you simply because you BECAME the poem.

“You can’t merely go on stage and recite words. To be a SpokenWord artist, there is an element of performance. You have to entertain. You have to make the audience feel something that they will remember,” – GFSoldier


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SpokenWord

No, I don’t write to elicit those types of responses. I don’t perform for people to stroke my ego. I perform because I feel free on stage. I let loose of everything holding me back, and I become whatever piece I’m spittin’. If it’s an angry piece, you’ll see it on my face. If it’s a laidback, humorous piece, you’ll feel my joy. It’s an organic thing that happens when you’re able to BE the poem.

Is everybody designed to be a performance poet? Not at all—and you don’t have to be. I’ve read poems that hit every spot it needed to hit, and I never saw the poet perform it. In fact, I think it takes a greater gift to affect someone through the written word. There’s no theatrics or performance involved. It’s strictly words.

But, if you’re not already embodying your poem, you’re leaving something on the stage. No, even worse, you’re not even bringing it to the stage. Tap into that emotion. Tap into the reason you wanted to hit the stage, to begin with. You’re not doing it for the sole purpose of gaining fans, but you’re doing it to change someone’s life.

Once you become your poem, you become more than a poet. You become a catalyst for change. Embrace your poem. Embrace the stage. And Spit That, Poet!


PodPoets Lounge Trivia T.J. McGowan 1) How many faces are featured on the cover of T.J’s book “We are not one thing”?

a) 3

b) 4

c) 5

d) 6

2) He is the second half of the meditative metal, and trip-rock poetry band called Part of Me (#Facts or False)

3) He shared some bars on Sunday Jan 9th 2022, which line did followers comment on for his Earth poem post?

a) it comes. It goes. This feeling of dread.

b) tongue of lost futures. Move about the sky

c) a bloody elixir painting nothing

d) fragments will fall to patterns on barren walls

4) What NY borough does he hail from?

a) Brooklyn

b) Staten Island

c) Queens

d) Bronx

5) Off the debut album I Wear Another Man’s Name, we get the video for Chemical Kiss on Youtube. The poem is about what?

a) big pharma

b) loss and pain

c) love and relationship

d) bio-technology

6) From the same album, the track Eulogy is how long?

a) 4:24

b) 3:26

c) 4:42

d) 2:53

Gwendolyn Brooks 1) 1) Which nickname was used for Gwendolyn Brooks?

a) Gwen Gwen

b) Gwendie

c) Ms. Brooks

d) Poetic Soul

2) Which US president invited her to be a guest and read at a Library of Congress festival?

a) Lincoln

b) Obama

c) Kennedy

d) Carter

3)Gwendolyn’s very first poem was actually published in a children’s magazine when she was just 9 years old!

. (#FACTS or FALSE)

4) Which is NOT a Gwendolyn Brooks book title…?

a) We Are Shining

b) BLACKS

c) The Bean EATers

d) A Street In Goldville

5) Gwendolyn Brooks was born on a Thursday 6/7/1917 (#FACTS or FALSE)

6) Gwendolyn Brooks was the Poet Laureate of which state?

a) Texas

b) New York

c) Washington

d) Illinois


URBAN FICTION Gods Ink Publications

2022

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IT ALL UNFOLDS


. n J a . T w o G c M

The Everyday Bite. It’s intriguing. It’s like an open-ended question. There’s a number of ways it could go once you hear those three words. But, for T.J. McGowan, the name opens the door to a deeper conversation. In short, life is fleeting. Every day, it takes a little bite out of you. Some days, it’s a chunk. Other days, it’s a nibble. Either way, McGowen uses his stage name as a subtle reminder. Live every day to the fullest until life takes its final bite. That’s our take on it, but McGowen explains it with an eloquence that eludes us. We introduce you to the Bronx’s own, T.J. McGowan.

The Everyday Bite



What’s the last album you listened to?

What’s your favorite pastime?

I love everything. I could be listening to anything from Biggie to Queens of the Stone Age. I try to digest as much music from every genre as possible. My playlists are usually pretty broad across the spectrum. But recently, it’s been Adele’s latest album.

Writing, reading. I guess I’m a little boring. (laughing). Before the COVID thing hit, I always went out to see live music. I loved that a lot. Going out to small clubs to catch small acts on their way up. I love live music. It was my go-to thing if I had one.

So, are you listening to that and thinking about a love interest?

I’m not a fan of crowds

Nah. I just love her voice. She has an incredible voice. She’s good at doing the ‘in my feelings, sad’ thing really well. Sometimes, as a writer, I lean into that. What’s the last movie you’ve watched? I took my nephew to see the Ghostbusters movie when I visited Chicago a while back. He liked it—and it was cool to see a younger kid be into a movie that I was into when I was younger.

I don’t like crowds. It took me a long time to get over the ‘not liking crowds, not liking crowded areas,’ you know? But, I learned how to develop tunnel vision. I can block out people and key in on what I’ve came to see. What’s the meaning behind your stage name? Quick story: One time, I was on an open mic list. The guy thought I was a comedian or a Chef because I was ‘the Everyday Bite.’ He was confused. But he jokes with me about it now. He calls me the Chef.


But, initially, I always wrote poetry for myself. I kept journals and things like that. But about 8-9 years ago, I let a friend of mine read some poetry. It was around the time people first started taking pictures of their poems and putting them on IG. So, she said, ‘if I start a page on IG for poetry, then you do it.’ I was apprehensive about it. I didn’t want to show my face. I was very vulnerable to showing people my work. I was nervous and all that. So, we came up with handles and said that we wouldn’t show our faces. So, I came up with the Everyday Bite. I used to write about time, mortality, fear of death, and all that. So, I got stuck on that idea, and that’s how the name came. The one thing that we all have in common is the unfortunate truth that we’re all going to die. So, every day, life takes a bite out of us. I know it sounds gloomy and pessimistic, but it helps me live my life to the fullest. Every day I’m going to get closer to the end. So, it helps me do what I love. Poetry, performing poetry, and making human connections with people. What has “the Everyday Bite” motivated you to do? It's weird that it was first used as a mask I hid behind. But one day, something clicked. A friend of mine suggested this open mic to me. I figured that I could go in there. Nobody knows my name or knows who I am. I could still be hidden to an extent. So, I went up there and did it. After that, the host offered me a feature spot for the following month. It was amazing to me. People heard my words and thought so much of it that they wanted to give me more time to speak.


So, The Everyday Bite made me want to get on the stage and perform. You can fear death and make it cripple you, or you can use the short amount of time you have to better yourself. Be better today than you were yesterday. I never used to be that kind of person, but poetry changed it for me. It makes me fearless and gives me the courage to try new things. I would’ve never ventured into any of the new things that I’m doing now. It makes me brave. At any point, life can end, so it makes me do something I’ve never done before. Was performing on stage the first time “love at first sight?” I was nervous. I still get nervous now, but the reason why changed. Before, I was terrified of being on stage. Now, I’m nervous because I don’t want to mess up. But, the host was key. She fell in love with what I said, and she invited me back up. It gave me confidence. So, I started meeting more people and learning the craft from there. Once I started navigating and hearing other people, I could home in on how I performed, and it changed everything. But, it was nerve-wracking at first. I was F****** terrified. It’s something about being in front of a room full of strangers on stage—but being completely comfortable. That’s weird, right? A friend of mine asked me how I handle being on stage as the center of attention? Because before, I was a wallflower. But, once I open my mouth, I feel in control. I control the microphone. I control the setting. It’s easier for me to interact with people through my art than it is for me to interact normally. I make it so that I’m the only audience member I’m trying to impress. I go inside myself, to another place, and I perform. Everything fades away, and it makes me feel alive. Purposeful.

Did you have to learn how to control the crowd? I got a lot of tips from people who are better than me. I ate it all up. I examined what they did. How they took breaks to hold eye contact. Enunciate. Project without screaming. I always compare it to rookie QBs in the NFL. They say the game moves too fast, and they had to adjust. It’s the same thing with poetry. You gotta adjust. You’re spitting it way too fast. You’re yelling. But then after that, it’s like, ‘yo, you can slow down. Take your time. Breathe.’ It doesn’t have to be a mile a minute. You’re in control, so do it your way. I’m competitive with myself. Making myself better. Has your competitiveness led you into the Slam arena? I’ve done one or two. The first one I did was a disaster because I didn’t know anything. Somebody suggested it, so I went and did it. But I didn’t know the rules, so that was a wash. I read it off paper and everything. But no. I love to watch it, but I’m not that into competing with others. I enjoy watching it more. It’s cool to watch the strategy behind it. Seasoned poets go in there, and they have a plan. They have a strategy. There’s an offense and a defense. There’s a coach. That aspect of it is fascinating. But, it’s just not for me. How has your poetic confidence transferred into your real life? Has it made you more confident? Yes. I’m still quiet, but it depends on the setting. I’m still like a wallflower in social situations. But, the confidence that I’ve built on the stage has transitioned into my regular life. My confidence has gone up. I love observing and listening to other people because it helps me write. So, I’m still quiet and observing, but that’s because I’m shy. It’s not because I lack confidence. I know when to speak.


How has your poetic confidence transferred into your real life? Has it made you more confident? I got a lot of tips from people who are better than me. I ate it all up. I examined what they did. How they took breaks to hold eye contact. Enunciate. Project without screaming. I always compare it to rookie QBs in the NFL. They say the game moves too fast, and they had to adjust. It’s the same thing with poetry. You gotta adjust. You’re spitting it way too fast. You’re yelling. But then after that, it’s like, ‘yo, you can slow down. Take your time. Breathe.’ It doesn’t have to be a mile a minute. You’re in control, so do it your way. I’m competitive with myself. Making myself better. Why did you choose poetry to get your message out? I ran to words when I was a kid. Ever since I was like 10. It was natural. I wrote more abstractly. I wrote my feelings, but it was in the way my brain and heart were telling me. So, I started to develop a voice, and it wasn’t until I was about 20 or 21 that I showed anyone my journals. Do you still have them? I still have all of them in a chest. Every one of them. So, I showed my girlfriend at the time, and she was like, ‘this is poetry. You’re writing poetry.’ Words were always there for me. Then, when I started to identify what I was doing as poetry, it was just a natural transition. There was always a desire to do creative things. And everything clicked. I was practicing writing poetry since I was ten, and so when I realized what it was, I was like, ‘oh. Let’s go. I’ve been preparing for this practically my whole life.’ So, the Everyday bite has also led you to make music, right?

Yeah. It's all baby steps. From going on stage with a piece of paper to memorizing and performing. Emote. Inflect. Eye contact. All that. Then I was revisiting old albums from the 60s and 70s. Gil Scott Herron and everything. Spokenword albums used to be a real thing. So, I spent two years making a Spokenword album, and I had a few friends making melodies for my album. Then my friend Danny came along, and he suggested that we do something together. He’s a musician. So, during COVID lockdowns, I’d go to his studio, and we’d just mess around with music in his studio. The next thing I know, we’re making music. I don’t know if what we do is for everybody, but it’s fun for us. I’m just seeing where it goes at this point. I’ve tried acting. Everything. But I don’t get there without The Everyday Bite. Spokenword develops a lot in you. Acting. Hosting. Everything. That’s one thing I’ve noticed in general. It’s interesting that poetry, for so many artists, is like an anchor point. We know we can always come back to it, but it opens more exploratory avenues for you to do different things. If you can’t sing, you might be able to write a good song. Spokenword is like the second cousin of hip-hop. So, let me see if I can do this to a beat and make something happen. Let's see if I can merge this performance poetry into acting. It all started with a love of poetry. When life takes its final bite out of you, how do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as a good and kind person if they like me as an artist, great. But, the people that I’ve made some impression on, I want them to see me as a good person. That’s what really matters to me the most. I want to be there for people and help as many people as possible. That’s how I want to be remembered.


Dopeness.